Liverpool started well. Torres went close early after kolo fell over. Shortly after Fabianski made a great double save.
Arsenal looked uncomfortable in the 4-5-1, Nik didn't have the pace to make it work and Cesc admitted earlier in the week he didn't have the pace to play in the hole. Why play players in uncomfortable positions?
Torres continued to batter our goal but our keeper continued to keep him out. Silvestre did his best to get a red card by wiping out Kuyt, Howard Webb decided against giving even a freekick. Was he going soft in his old age?
Arsenal offered little going forward, bar a volley that was fizzed wide by Cesc.
Liverpool continued to probe, Torres firing a free shot at Fabianski... who saved again. Two minutes later he saved at the feet of Benayoun... then shortly after Nasri cleared off the line.
Arshavin touched the ball. That point is important, because it took until 30 minutes were on the clock for it to happen.
Arsenal were being pounded by Liverpool... it was like watching a stoic boxer taking a beating... refusing to drop despite the intense bombardment of punches he's receiving. The beauty of boxing is that it only takes one lapse in concentration for the dominant boxer to be hit by a sucker punch... football is equally unfair...
Nasri cut Cesc in, Cesc beat the offside trap... cut the ball back to Arshavin who bounded into the box in a Freddy-esque manner and buried it in off the bar! Against all the odds... Arsenal were one up! Andy Gray said it was offside, what a oaf. This is why I normally watch the game with 20 people, I can't hear his boring anti-Arsenal ramblings. Did anyone else enjoy hearing him when it was proved Cesc was onside? Priceless, in a mastercard kind of way...
Liverpool continued to press and hammer the goal, Arsenal managed to finish the first round battered but on top due to a 36th minute flooring of Liverpool.
So, at half time... I'd say Song was having a blinder, Denilson 'My stats don't flatter me' Neves was having another shocker and Arsenal were yet to shift out of neutral... we had to do better in the second half, another half like that could see Fabianski come down with a bad case of 'shell shock'.
The first half started, Sagna shanked a cross... Kuyt picked it up, had one go at a cross, messed it up, got it back again and chipped a nice ball to the back post where Torres was to head it back across goal. I hate strikers that can finish...
Shortly after, more back post shenanigans when a testing cross was delivered in... Sagna made a shambles of it, someone got a touch on it and Fabianski failed to keep it out... 2-1... Liverpool took a well deserved lead... were we ready to accept the knock out blow? Were we hell...
Off went Denilson 'My stats got into a fight and beat up the world' Neves... and on came Theo... finally, 4-4-2! Finally we looked a threat!
Fabianski hit a low goal kick... so low Arshavin could head it on... Bendtner didn't make it... but Arshavin managed to pick up the bad clearance... ran on 5 yards, looked up and rifled into the top corner! Amazing goal... outrageous... that is what we paid £17million for!
It wasn't over though... Nasri was involved in the third with some good interplay with Arshavin... who was found alone, in the box... there was only going to be one outcome... goal! Arsenal were winning... the resurgence was on...
Liverpool weren't finished... Torres picked up the ball on the 18 yard box... faked... shifted... buried it... 3-3...
Arsenal gained possession... Song moved forward... played Nik in... Nik finished... the lino flagged offside...
At this moment in time, all I was thinking about was how many times we'd been robbed of the title unfairly... Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink for Leeds in 99... Bolton equalising in 2003... I wanted Liverpool to feel my pain!
They went closest. Torres had his header cleared off the line by Gibbs. Nasri hit an inaccurate shot wide when he had time, Theo ambitiously skied the ball... something was brewing, which way was the game going to go?
Arsenal concede a corner... Fabianski punches it out... Theo latches on... powers down the pitch, with Arshavin chasing him... it was 2 versus 2... Theo played a delightful ball into Arshavin, who looked up, and spanked it into the top corner! Big names give you big performances... this guy proves money buys happiness, excitement, and magic. This guy spits in the face of people who believe spending more than £15million on a player only ever gets you a 'Veron'.
4 goals... he had successfully eclipsed Baptista as my favourite Arsenal player of all time! ALL HAIL ARSHAVIN!
Sadly... our shocking defence gifted Liverpool a shocking goal 2 minutes later... abysmal and disappointing. What the hey... it was a mighty fine game and 4th was as good as ours if we held on. Cesc managed to put the ball in the net again... but it was offside... Liverpool made a claim for a hand ball... the score finished 4-4.
The slug fest had finished, and a controversial draw was awarded by the corrupt 'anything can happen in football' judges.
However, if you want to put a positive spin on a 4-4 draw... Imagine offiside didn't exist... we'd have won 6-4... damn the offside rule... damn the year 1856.
Fabianski: His cock up in the semi final could have ruined his confidence but thankfully he is mentally stronger than that... he was mostly immense today and he deserves a lot of credit. His second half wasn't the best, but the defence was shambolic. 8.5
Gibbs: I thought he played ok. Considering his age, I thought he shamed Sagna... 6.5
Sagna: Woeful game for a top professional. I'd say he was at fault for 2 of the goals... but anyone is better than Eboue. 4
Toure: Tweedle Dee did not have a great game... He was nervous, sloppy and lost. Not good. 5
Silvestre: Tweedle Dum was even more disappointing... I'd expect more of a seasoned pro. I can't really be bothered to elaborate, most of you saw. Lets just say if Silvestre was a word, he'd be 'poo'. 5
Song: Superb performance from our Cameroonian. He was all over the park, jockeying players wide, winning balls in the air and passing very well. He even set up Nik's ruled out goal. 9
Denilson: You've heard about his stats right? They were invited to premiere of Star Trek two nights ago, but refused... claiming to be so famous, they were above that sort of nonsense. Jokes aside, he was awful tonight... an unnecessary pick for me. Song was more than capable of doing the holding role on his own. 5
Cesc: Played in his least favourite position in the first half... and it showed. He really isn't suited to that role and I can't fathom why he is put there? Anyway, when we reverted back to 4-4-2, he really started to play, sitting deeper, picking out passes, keeping our football flowing nicely. 7
Nasri: I think that was one of his best away performances for the club. He linked in well with the attack, mucked in with the defence and started the move for two goals. I've been harsh on him recently, but only because I know he can do better. Tonight was a step in the right direction. 7.5
Presenter: Andre have you ever scored 4 goals in a match before?
Andre: No never, only twice in Russia.
Ok, so he rectified his mistake, but it was still funny. The Russian was hardly involved in the first half until he scored his goal, then the second half he came alive when the 4-4-2 began. His finishing was exceptional, his technique was amazing and his goals were beauties. A superstar has landed, worship at will. 10
Bendtner: Atrocious performance from my special friend. I think it's unfair that he only seems to get a run out on his own up front, it can't be good for his development can it? However, that doesn't excuse the sloppy passing and the poor positional play. A bad day for the big Dane... 5
Theo: Another player I've been giving a rough ride lately. He came on and opened the game up. His attacking presence brought width and space to the game and caused Liverpool alsorts of problems. His run for the Arshavin goal was a bit disappointing... he did that last year... get a new move Theo, please, that one is getting tedious. 8
Diaby: Brought onto protect the lead, sadly there was nothing he could do to prevent the inept defence from leaking another goal. 6
So in conclusion, I'll take that. This is the point I was trying to make over the weekend... I don't mind dropping points or losing, providing we give it our best shot. Song was immense today, Arshavin was sublime when given the ball and Nasri was effective and troublesome... why couldn't they have played against the Chav's?
Lets hope the coach has learned from this and takes the game to the Mancs... we have the quality to play 4-4-2 Arsene, trust in the team you've been telling us to have faith in all year!
Happy Wednesday Grovers!
P.S. Skandibird sent me in some Arsenal pictures from the weekend, which got me thinking... why don't we have a photo gallery? If you have any great pictures of games and grounds throughout the season, send them in and I'll post them up in the photo gallery... check it out here.
Also, if you have any tickets, please let me know, don't let them go to waste!